In the first part of this mini series I covered the process of generating the insights relevant in order to express your Unique Value Proposition. So at this stage you should have a list of 10-20 value statements provided by your customers and support or sales staff.
Internet marketing will always operate under severe content limitations, whether it is the limited space on your landing pages or limited amount of characters in a ppc ad or twitter post. That’s is why having a long list of all possible values of your company is pretty much useless at least because you would never have enough space or users’ attention to express them all. But don’t worry about that, today I will try to go through the basic framework solely focusing on the process of filtering a dozen or so of your value propositions to the final three (or maximum five). It is super essential to choose the most beneficial value statements for your users so I will strongly recommend you to follow this framework rather than choosing the most attractive to your eyes.
There are plenty of various methodologies available from both the academic and practical worlds regarding UVP and factors which affect the strength of the propositions and I would need another 2-3 posts in order to cover them all so you will just have to trust me here. I believe that all of these different methodologies in the end agree that the strength of the UVP is mostly dependant on two things: Exclusivity & Appeal. Below I will try to expand these 2 factors in more detail:
Some of you might think that I just put the Captain Obvious cape on but you would be seriously surprised how many companies forget the “Unique” from UVP. Here’s the first example I’ve spotted recently:
Coming back to the statement I mentioned in the first part – UVPs are never analysed in an information vacuum. Meaning that in a majority of cases, a potential client of the tool, would visit all the competitors’ websites before making any final decision and obviously the statement which is homogeneous to all of the market players would not provide any persuasive value whatsoever. This real estate is literally wasted for four lines of useless copy when it could be used for displaying something truly unique to them.
How exclusive are my values?
In order to simplify the process, let’s classify the exclusivity into 3 major groups. You can use much more if you have plenty of time but 3 should be more than enough in order to make a decision.
1. Kickass exclusive – That’s the nirvana of exclusivity. It’s any value which only your organisation can provide. I would divide the kickass exclusivity into another 3 small groups because they are quite different from each other:
- Entry barriers – That’s the competitive advantage earned using various barriers for your competitors to copy. Think about the iPhone with Siri or Dyson vacuums with the hundreds of patents. It is perhaps the most valuable of all exclusivities simply because it’s both strong and secure from copycats.
- The biggest/oldest player benefit – This is pretty logical but anyway: Ebay provides the fastest way to sell your useless stuff simply because it’s literally the world’s largest online marketplace. Being “the biggest” is usually exclusive by itself but you can always turn it into the customers’ benefit for more obvious clarity.
- Niche Exclusivity – That’s the most common and the easiest to obtain exclusivity. Since I used Ebay in the previous example, Etsy would be a great one for this group. Etsy is an online marketplace but solely dedicated to the handmade, vintage (read hipster) products. It’s acquisition strategies are focused on obtaining this specific customer base and even in spite of the big brother – Ebay, they are able to communicate exclusive to them only value to the potential customers. The main disadvantage of the niche exclusivity is that if it is really valuable your competitors will copy it sooner or later.
2. Somehow exclusive – This category will cover all other values which are not exclusive only to you but another couple of players. It really depends on the size of the industry you are operating in but in general if the value you are trying to communicate is available from more than 10% of your direct competitors it is the category below rather than this one. It’s quite hard to come up with a common example but I think the British Higher Education industry does provide a great case for us to discuss. There are 6 universities using the so called “Ancient University” as their main value proposition. It’s clearly focused on the benefits the universities can provide due to the history of operation of 500 years and in spite it’s not exclusively unique to just one of them it still raises them above a few hundred other education providers. It’s usually the core value which differentiate market leaders from market followers.
3. Delusionally exclusive – This last group actually means not exclusive at all but judging from almost 95% of companies using these values as something really exclusive I can’t choose any other word other than delusional. Most commonly these values would be communicated using the same set of general meaningless statements like:
- Thinking on a different level
- Hard working
Do you know what’s common between all of these value statements? Every single company on this planet should posses these values by default! Being professional and transparent is not a competitive advantage! It’s a must have attribute for any organisation. If you are expressing something similar as your UVP than you perhaps don’t have any other to show – and that’s just sad.
The examples above are mostly about the organisation’s values but the same delusional approach can be spotted on a product level as well:
That’s the set of UVPs of a children’s pencil set we reviewed during our email marketing presentations. Can you spot what’s wrong about it? Exactly! Every single pencil in the milky way is environmentally friendly and easy to store. Don’t waste your prospect’s time on stating the obvious because they would easily get bored and leave before reaching your real values.
So here you go. Now you should have a set of values and 3 exclusivity groups to categorise. Simply take all your statements and assign them points based on the categories I described above:
- Assign 2 points for the KickAss Exclusive Values
- Assign 1 point for the Somehow Exclusive Values
- And 0 points for Delusionally Exclusive Values
During the next and hopefully last part I will try to describe the importance of the appeal of your value propositions and final thoughts on the UVP development framework.